June 25, 2021

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Airlines reach terms for billions in loans

WHO evaluating role of airborne transmission

People wear face masks as they arrive at the beach during the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Oceanside, California, June 22, 2020.

Mike Blake | Reuters

The World Health Organization said it is evaluating new research into how significantly the coronavirus can spread through particles in the air as the agency faces increased pressure from scientists around the world.

The WHO has long said the virus primarily spreads from one person to another through respiratory droplets, often emitted from coughing and sneezing. The agency previously said particles from such droplets might become airborne in certain environments, but said it’s not a primary driver of spread in the general population.

Now, after hundreds of scientists from around the world published a letter saying the role of airborne transmission must be more seriously considered, the WHO said it continues to evaluate the research.

“The body of evidence continues to grow and we adapt,” Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, said. “We take this very seriously. We are, of course, focused on public health guidance.” —Will Feuer

5 more airlines reach terms for billions in federal loans

Gate agents assist travelers at a Delta Air Lines Inc. bag drop counter at the San Diego International Airport (SAN) in San Diego, California, U.S., on Monday, April 27, 2020.

Bing Guan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Five more U.S. airlines — Delta, United, JetBlue, Southwest and Alaska — have reached agreements with the Treasury Department over the terms for billions in federal loans aimed at helping them weather the impact of the coronavirus. The terms, which weren’t disclosed, require borrowers to compensate taxpayers with instruments including warrants, stock or senior debt, the Treasury Department said.

Five other airlines, including American, already reached agreements, the Treasury Department said last week.

The $2.2 trillion CARES Act set aside $25 billion in loans for U.S. passenger airlines. It isn’t guaranteed that airlines will tap the loans. Carriers also received $25 billion in payroll support that requires them to keep employees paid through Sept. 30, but Delta and United have begun warning employees that government-mandated advance notice of potential furloughs could come this month for thousands of staff members.

Airlines are trying to exhaust voluntary measures like buyouts and early retirements before turning to involuntary cuts. —Leslie Josephs

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for Covid-19

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for coronavirus Tuesday. Bolsonaro said he began feeling sick on Sunday.

Bolsonaro confirmed he is taking azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine, neither of which are known to be effective against Covid-19, CNBC’s Sam Meredith and Kevin Breuninger report.

In recent months, the right-wing president has described Covid-19 as nothing more than “a little flu,” suggesting that his past as an athlete would make him immune to the most severe symptoms of the virus. Brazil, with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and over 65,000 related deaths, has the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. —Suzanne Blake

Moderna, U.S. government at odds in push for a vaccine

Moderna Therapeutics lab.

Source: Moderna Therapeutics

The U.S. government has put nearly half a billion dollars and support into Moderna’s coronavirus vaccination project. But Reuters has learned the U.S. government and biotech company have squabbled over topics such as the trial process and the company’s relative inexperience in human trials.

The phase three trial for the project was originally supposed to launch July 10, but was pushed back, STAT News reported last week.

One source said Moderna, which has never produced an approved vaccine or run a large trial, “could be on schedule if they were more cooperative,” Reuters first reported Monday. Moderna has denied any missteps but did acknowledge “differences of opinion” between the company and the government experts involved.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which award $483 million to Moderna in April, said in a statement to Reuters that the collaboration has been positive and that Moderna’s vaccine project is the most promising out of all the current options. –Alex Harring

Herd immunity strategies called into question after coronavirus antibody study in Spain

Researchers from Spain and the U.S. have cast doubt on herd immunity strategies after finding only 5% of the Spanish population was carrying antibodies for Covid-19.

More than 251,700 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Spain to date, and the country has the third-highest number of deaths relative to population in the world, according to Our World in Data.

The prevalence of antibodies in Spain’s general population was “insufficient to provide herd immunity,” scientists argued, despite the nation being one of the worst-hit by the pandemic.

Experts at Johns Hopkins University estimate that at least 70% of the population would need to be immune to Covid-19 for herd immunity to be achieved. —Chloe Taylor

Economic activity fell in all states during first quarter, raising concerns of potential cuts

People wait in line as SF-Marin Food Bank hands out 1600 food bags in San Francisco on April 20, 2020. Work furloughs and layoffs created by coronavirus shelter-in-place orders are driving thousands to seek food assistance.

San Francisco Chronicle | Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images

Economic activity fell in every state in the first three months of the year as the pandemic brought activity to halt, according to government data.

No state’s economy grew during the quarter, the data showed, while the U.S. gross domestic product — the broadest measure of the nation’s economy — contracted by 5%.

While financial support was created through the CARES Act, estimates from the Tax Policy Center show states could see a $200 billion revenue shortfall in the 2020 fiscal year. States are currently weighing cuts to basic services, including education, health care and public safety as a result, CNBC’s Scott Cohn reports.

Credit agencies have also taken notice of the changing financial situation. In May, Moody’s Investors Service lowered its outlook for the U.S. State sector to “negative” from “stable” for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis. –Alex Harring

Dow falls 200 points as travel stocks slide

Stocks opened lower, led by stocks that would directly benefit from an economic recovery, reports CNBC’s Fred Imbert and Yun Li. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 200 points lower, or 0.8%. The S&P 500 slid 0.6% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.3%. —Melodie Warner

Regeneron signs $450 million contract with U.S. government for its coronavirus therapy

Brazil’s Bolsonaro tested for Covid-19 after feeling unwell

The President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro appears on the ramp of the Planalto Palace to wave to his supporters amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at the Planalto Palace on May 15, 2020 in Brasilia.

Andressa Anholete | Getty Images

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been tested for the coronavirus, shortly after the presidential palace confirmed to NBC News that he had been feeling unwell and was running a high temperature. 

An affiliate to CNN in Brazil had reported that the right-wing leader tested positive for the virus, but this has not been verified by CNBC or officially confirmed.

The results of Bolsonaro’s test for Covid-19 are expected at around 11 a.m. ET. —Sam Meredith

Novavax joins Operation Warp Speed

Biotech company Novavax announced it was awarded $1.6 billion from the U.S. government to help accelerate the late-stage development and manufacturing of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, Reuters reported.

It is the largest investment made so far through Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s effort to expedite the development and production of drugs and vaccines to help combat the virus. Novavax stock soared more than 35% in premarket trading on the news.

The federal government has also made investments through Operation Warp Speed in Johnson & Johnson‘s vaccine candidate as well as Moderna‘s. The U.S. has also awarded funds to AstraZeneca’s potential vaccine, which is being developed with Oxford University.

Novavax said the award will help fund its phase three trial, expected to begin in the fall, and help it to ready 100 million doses for distribution as early as the end of the year if the vaccine proves safe and effective in humans. —Will Feuer

Read CNBC’s previous coronavirus live coverage here: Australia closes interstate border; California asks indoor businesses to close

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